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It seems only fair, as we spend so much time being critical, to acknowledge that very occasionally something does go right. What's gone right this week is that a nursery owner has been cleared of assaulting a toddler after the girl's mother said the prosecution should not have been brought. Olive Rack, 56, claimed that she had been the victim of a vendetta by childcare inspectors who told "a pack of lies". She was charged with common assault for allegedly dragging the two-year-old girl by the arm, forcing her into a chair and poking her twice in the head.
Mrs Rack said that she had been using the "naughty seat" disciplinary technique made famous by the Channel 4 programme Supernanny after the girl hit a baby on the head with a toy brick. The child's parents refused to support the prosecution; the girl still attends the nursery in Kettering, Northamptonshire, and her hours have increased since the incident in July last year.
Magistrates ruled after a two-day trial that Mrs Rack had used appropriate force in disciplining the child. Mrs Rack said after the verdict: "I am pleased to finally be vindicated and I'd like to thank the witnesses who gave evidence for me in this case."
Meryl Mayo, chairwoman of the bench at Towcester Magistrates' Court, said: "We have had various versions of this incident. We feel that the main witnesses, Gillian Whall and Julie Medhurst (both local authority inspectors) were leaving the nursery. They may not have seen the whole incident or were possibly mistaken. There were a number of inconsistencies in the evidence. We feel there is no evidence that Mrs Rack tapped or poked the child in this way."
The mother, who cannot be named, told the court she had every faith in the punishment used by Mrs Rack, who has 40 years' experience in the industry and has owned Tresco House Nursery for 19 years. She said "Mrs Rack is a very nice lady and my daughter sees her as her carer during the day. If I felt there was problem with my daughter, I know she would tell me from her body language or her demeanour. When she has been naughty I expect her to be disciplined as I would discipline her at home. I believe that the incident has been highly exaggerated."
Mrs Rack denied common assault and told the court that the girl had been treated with caution and respect. She said: "I just got hold of the toddler's hand. She was crying and having a tantrum - typical two-year-old behaviour. I led her to a chair and said, 'You can sit there and think about what you have done.'"
In a statement the local authority said that its early years advisers had a duty to raise concerns that might arise through their visits to ensure that all children received the same high standard of pre-school education and care. Sadly, they don't seem to have explained to their inspectors exactly what that means, and Gillian Whall and Julie Medhurst assumed that it meant they should use the full might of the law to assert their own authority in the hope that anyone they didn't approve of would get sent to jail. I wonder if they've got kids of their own? What would they have done with the two-year-old?
Well, all's well that ends well, I suppose. Hats off to the magistrates. For once, common-sense rules.

The GOS says: In case you don't believe that local authority gauleiters would ever be less than scrupulously honest and straightforward, spend a few minutes browsing round this site.


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